Allen Levin

“It’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.” This was a quote heard by then 15 year old Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and it impacted him hard. He said in an interview that he hoped that it would matter one day that he’s nice to people. He said now it seems that people care if he’s nice or not. He’s achieved a certain level of success and it now matters. He also said it’s the easiest thing in the world to be nice. He enjoys the opportunity of being nice (and not full of shit).

Love this. See his interview here.

This is something we need to spend today discussing. It’s easy not to be nice. Things are going to go so very wrong on set that you can’t imagine it today. This doesn’t mean pack it up and quit or it’s not worth it. Living your dream very much is worth the trouble (which in the long run is hardly trouble compared to the rewards). That being said, you will be challenged. It’s on the days that you are stressed out of your mind, that you have a broken heart, that you are experiencing personal and professional pain, that being nice is the most important. Challenge yourselves always to be nice to people.

I haven’t always been nice. I’m getting better. I’m striving to make improvement each day. I’m very sensitive (as with most artists) and can find myself feeling offended. I’ve been working hard to let go of that in life. I’m happy to play it on stage (and can go there rather easily) but in life I’ve been finding that my getting offended, or feeling like I need to be defensive about nearly anything, has been happening far less. The reason for the decline is that I desire not to take things in such a way anymore. I want to go to sleep happy and wake up happy. I want to find my smile faster than my frown. I value people. It’s ok for them to say something rude to me, however I challenge myself not to return the favor.

A couple days ago at the grocery store I was picking up cat food for my wild beasts at home. A lady came over and was upset with me immediately (I do feel sorry for her). She said, “Are you taking ALL the Chicken & Beef??!” I replied that I didn’t have any. She waited for a moment for me to make some selections and then cut in front of me to take the cat food she wanted just in case I would choose it. It wouldn’t have been that long ago that I personally would have thought, “What a jerk! I’m already here. I have the right to pick whatever cat food I need and then she can have hers!” Today I choose to think “That poor lady. Her life is probably pretty rough for her to get upset with a stranger that was nice to her. I hope she can find some happiness soon.”

It used to be that I’d open a smart mouth or maybe even take the cat food she wanted to “prove a point.” I now look back on my old self with a degree of pity. I remember how being rude to people (even those that were first rude to me) never made me feel any better. In fact it made me feel worse to add into that person’s difficult day. Now I’m just quiet. If they rant, that’s on them. I no longer participate. On stage it’s the opposite. On stage, I’ll light that person ablaze! In life, I’m nice to people. I’m nice to everyone. I’ve deleted a passage that shows my improvement as it could be offensive. Take my word for it, I’m improving and that makes me happy.

Be nice. I could write that three times and that could be the entire blog. Be nice before “it matters” if you are nice to people. Be nice when you are broke. Be nice when you have wealth. Be nice when you are an assistant’s assistant. Be nice when you are the top dog. Be nice.

Take care particularly when you send emails to be nice. You can get your point across without lighting someone up or being argumentative. I’ve sent plenty a difficult email. Usually it’s the 3rd draft. I like to write everything out that I’d like to say (and I do this in Microsoft Word so that I’m not tempted to hit send). I purge all my bad feelings. I’ll next revise it to take out all blame and as many “you” words as possible. In cases that are urgent (need a fast reply) this is even more important.

For example: “You owe me $125. You need to pay me back today.” I’d change that to be “It would be a big relief to collect the $125 that was lent out. My rent payment is due in the morning.” I might even go back and revise another time: “Let’s get that $125 paid up. Is it convenient for me to stop by today?”

Sometimes people are going to push your buttons. Save the anger for the stage. In life, be nice.

Aside: Never lend anyone any money you aren’t willing to give them flat out. That’s a tough lesson to learn. The most well intentioned friend will come up to you very soon and with heart-felt sincerity ask to borrow money. “You know I’m good for it.” Don’t lend them anything. Give them any amount you are ok letting them have. Tell them it’s a gift. I believe I wrote an entire blog in this topic.

Onward and UP.